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Jethro Tull: Living With The Past (DVD)

As one of my favourite bands from the late 60's and 70's and having had the pleasure to see them play live in Sydney on 3 occasions (yes, they actually toured down under!), I was very keen to pick up one of their retrospective DVD's for nostalgia's sake.

As graceful as old rockers can age with some modicum of dignity, it was great to see Ian Anderson and crew up to their old tricks and playing a stellar set of songs at a number of concerts throughout England and America where most of the footage for this DVD was shot. As a flautist, Ian Anderson has no equal in the rock industry and as an acoustic guitarist, there are few who can capture the imagination and versatility that he can bring to the table with such a great variety of compelling and catchy songs. As a singer, Ian has only lost a small amount of his former talent and yet still looks slightly comical when he lifts himself up on his toes in an attempt to try and reach those higher notes that must become harder to attain with age. Vocally, Ian still delivers a fine performance on most counts and you would be hard pressed to find someone who can still cut the mustard after so many years with the same band. To this day, he still retains his impish charm, cavorting around on stage in a slightly animated and exaggerated manner, looking more like an inebriated goblin on steroids rather than the consummate professional musician that he is. For a man in his late 50's, Ian has more energy than most athletics and certainly delivers a riveting performance.

The only other player to have been around for more that a short period is guitarist, Martin Barre, whose pension seems pretty secure after more that 35 years with the band. Talk about a dedicated pair! The other members include Doane Perry who handles the drumming with incredible aplomb, Andrew Giddings on vintage Roland keyboards, Hammond Organ and accordion while Jonathon Noyce looks after the basics. Is the overall sound the same as when they were in their prime? Well, not quite! However, for a band of strolling players whose average age would be close to 50, they sure know their stuff and play every song with as much precision as they always did. The songs slightly lack the heavier and rawer edge that used to prevail during their formative years but I put it all down to musical maturity together with the fact that modern technology has all but eliminated any distortive blemishes that were introduced when using big old valve amplifiers. Under headphones, at a reasonably high level, you can truly appreciate the dexterity of each player's musicianship, the brilliance in the mixing and the crispness of the overall sound. While that obligatory wall of sound is not quite as apparent, the overall finesse and spatial positioning of the music really comes to the fore if you are blessed with 5.1 audio possibilities. I am also particularly impressed with Doane Perry's drumming as he has a very capable and comfortable style that belies his true talents, making some great fills look far too easy while keeping everything tight and well controlled. Andrew Giddings is also a great player and contributes some particularly beautiful piano pieces throughout 2 old classic acoustic gems called, "Life Is A Love Song" and "Wond'ring Aloud". These were filmed at Ian's home and were included as a desire to include something from the more formal end of the music spectrum with scores written for string quartet. Jethro Tull as you've never hear them! Andrew Noyce, who enjoyed a fruitful and extensive career including plenty of jazz and classical work before joining the band is a very accomplished player and even demonstrates his percussive talents while playing the darabuka during the track called " Water Carrier ".

The 20 songs included on the disc give a fairly strong representative and nostalgic sojourn throughout Jethro Tull's career and with such a vast repertoire of songs from which to choose, it would be a mind-numbing job deciding what to include and what to omit. If you were looking for all of their old classics served up within the confines of one large collective compilation, then this offering will obviously have a number of songs missing. However, accepting things as they are is probably the best way to appreciate this collection of songs and to patiently wait in line for the all-singing–all-dancing triple, DVD boxed set that Ian promises will eventuate when he feels up to the task.

As an extra feature, Ian managed to reunite the original members of the band from its l968 line-up and performed 2 classic tracks, "Someday the Sun Won't Shine for You" & "A Song For Jeffrey" in a local village pub called Kelly's for a small but dedicated band of followers. The DVD also includes a selection of various bonus material, including several outtakes, a photo gallery and excerpts from 2 recent tracks with Uriah Heep and Fairport Convention. It always used to amaze me during the early 70's when I asked other people if they liked or had heard any of Jethro Tull's music and was often told, "Yes, I really like his stuff"! Wonders never cease! For those that can remember that Jethro Tull is a band and not an individual, this DVD represents a worthy addition to any true fans collection.

Track Listings:

1. My Sunday Feeling
2. Cross Eyed Mary
3. Roots To Branches
4. Someday The Sun Won't Shine For You
5. Jack In The Green
6. Thick As A brick
7. Wond'ring Aloud
8. Sweet Dreams
9. Hunt By Numbers
10. Bouree
11. A Song For Jeffrey
12. The Water Carrier
13. A New Day Yesterday
14. Life Is A Love Song
15. Budapest
16. New Jig
17. Aqualung
18. Locomotive Breath
19. Living In The Past
20. Protect & Survive (Instrumental)
21. Cheerio

Added: June 6th 2004
Reviewer: Greg Cummins
Related Link: Jethro Tull Web Site
Hits: 3088
Language: english

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